Michigan Land Use Institute

MLUI / Articles from 1995 to 2012 / You Know It When You See It

You Know It When You See It

April 27, 2006 | By Jim Lively
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service


 Taking the ice cream test.

Here are four decidedly low-tech tests that anyone can conduct to figure out whether a neighborhood or town center is truly a New Urbanist masterwork.

Halloween Test: Is it a good place for Trick-or-Treating? Kids figured out long ago that the best place for scoring Skittles is, hands-down, a neighborhood where houses are close together, traffic is slow, streets are well lit, and sidewalks are abundant. New Urbanists would say the neighborhood “has higher density and is pedestrian-friendly.”

Ice Cream Test: Can you buy ice cream and walk it home before it melts?  If you’re only halfway there and you’ve already got Mint Chip down to your elbow, the neighborhood flunks New Urbanism’s walkability and mixed-use criteria.

Parade Test: Could your town center draw a crowd for a parade? People rarely gather in big-box store parking lots. New Urbanist projects must include inviting public spaces.

Date Test: Is it a good place for a walk with your paramour? Also known as the “smooch” test, this is about strolling somewhere to grab a bite, stop at a shop, or relax in a park. New Urbanist neighborhoods offer these amenities within an easy walk of your front porch.

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